Variety reported today that New Line Cinema, a division of AOL/ Time/Warner, is set to create both live action and animated feature length films based on the Cartoon Network's Samurai Jack series (see 'Samurai Jack Makes A Big Splash'). New Line has managed to do very well with comic and fantasy projects including The Mask, Blade, and Lord of the Rings, so Samurai Jack, which is highest rated show on the Cartoon Network, appears to be a natural for the studio, which has had so much success with similar properties. Created by Genndy Tartakovsky, the man behind Dexter's Laboratory, and a director/producer of The Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack is a time-traveling fantasy that pits good against evil as the title character attempts to turn the tables on an malevolent wizard and his minions.
Brett Ratner, director of this year's highest-grossing live-action film to date (Rush Hour 2) is set to direct the live action version of Samurai Jack. Genndy Tartakovsky will write the screenplay for the live action Samurai Jack film, which is expected to hit screens before the full length animated feature. Ratner is about to begin filming 'Red Dragon' which will star Anthony Hopkins and Edward Norton. After the completion of Red Dragon, New Line is hoping that Ratner will concentrate on bringing Samurai Jack to the big screen.
Samurai Jack creator Tartakovsky is planning to write and direct the Samurai Jack animated feature all by himself. The animated feature will be produced and released by Warner Bros., keeping both film versions of Samurai Jack under the AOL/Time/Warner aegis. Although the only Samurai Jack items available at this time are the action figures being sold by the Cartoon Network on its Website and the second issue of Draw magazine, this is a property with oodles of potential. Animation is increasingly important both on TV and in the theaters -- and Samurai Jack is a breakout property -- sort of an American anime -- not so much in terms of visual style, but in its freewheeling approach to darker, more interesting storylines that make it more than just another 'cartoon for kids.'